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Digital Preservation at NDSA – Making It Work

August 15th, 2011 · No Comments


A few weeks ago I was honored to attend the National Digital Stewardship Alliance meeting. The NDSA was planned by the Library of Congress as part of their NDIIP project.  There were more people there than I expected and it was a humbling experience to hear some of the brightest and most creative brains in Digital Preservation speak.

The high volume of information was overwhelming.  I spent more than six hours at the end of the conference compiling a PowerPoint of the important research highlights.   A small sample of this information is included below.

There were many wonderful presentations giving case studies on how institutions used their own creativity to try and enhance the longevity or migratability (new word?) of their digital files.  The amazing work often was done on a shoestring which though unfortunate, also forced a certain level of imagination and invention.

A few examples are:

Jack Brighton, of campus radio station WILL, gave a wonderful presentation on what a small station is doing to make their civil rights collection more accessible. did a great presentation on how they are helping arts projects get funded and we hope that as they branch into community work that digital preservation might fit into that.

The UK Web Archiving project covered some of the complexities and true effort that it takes to try and tackle capturing the online history of its nation.

– As of December 2010 – 9 million sites with .uk, probably 1M more

– 10,027 websites archived

– Need skills in Linux, Java, Hadoop, and SOL

5 keys processes to web archiving

– Selection

– Harvesting

– Storage

– Preservation

– Access


So after taking in all this good information, what is it that I have left the conference with?

People just like us are doing some wonderful problem solving out there.  There is some potential being unlocked, but there is so much to do.

As I see it the Action Items are:

1)    Greater broadcasting of the successful case studies for migration and open solutions.

2)    Training classes in how to boil this down for each type of format/issue.  The NDSA Outreach group held a session called “Digital Preservation in a Box”.  This is the beginning of standardizing the tools that we need.

3)    Overarching education to information and production professionals, as well as, the general public about the dangers of digital fragility and the need for migration (at the least).

I have mentioned to my classes for years that future anthropologists, sociologists and historians will have little to sift through from the late 20th century.

Some of it is being worked on by archivists now but much is gone.  Let’s keep making progress so that the future of our current history is not lost, like the way of silent films.

More informational tidbits from NDSA:


Other Great Projects






Archiving Facebook

Grad student designed Firefox add-on for individual archiving of Fb.

Preserving Virtual Worlds



Cool Tools




Great Quotes

—    JackBrighton”(DAM) is more like an appliance than an Ecosystem.”

—    Michael Nelson “We need to raise the level of user expectations.”

—    Michael Nelson “In all good computer science functions you solve the problem through indirection.”

—    Wheatley and Frieze “The world does not change one person at a time.  It changes as networks of relationships form among people        who discover they share a common cause and vision of what’s possible.”

—    Tim O’Reilly(?) “Teach preservation as a mindset.  Bake this into the tools.”


New Phrases

—    Social Curation

—    Metadata Ecologists


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Category: Archiving Challenges · Digital Obsolescence · History of Media and Access · New Tools · Preservation · Professional Resources · Skills with a Capital I and T · Social Media

The DAM Metadata Disconnect

February 7th, 2011 · No Comments


After reading some marketing information from a DAM vendor, and working in the field for nearly 20 years, I just needed to vent about how some present their product.

Some DAM system vendors often tout their automated systems as replacements for what they claim is “costly manual tagging”. Yet, after implementing one of these expensive systems, their customers often turn to information professionals for metadata development help, because their end users are unable to find the assets they need in a timely manner. There is an obvious disconnect between full automation versus high-end manual service.

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Category: Developing A Digital Collection · New Tools

News from Second Life

July 30th, 2010 · No Comments


Sara Martin, Second Life Avatar If you’ve heard of Second Life but wasn’t really sure what it was, or perhaps you’re feeling hesitant about learning “another” new thing, take heart. I’m here to provide information and guidance to this new social media tool. Check out this 3 minute YouTube video for a quick demo on Second Life and how it’s being used to teach university classes.

In a nutshell, Second Life is a software program that looks like you’ve entered a three dimensional (3D) world on your computer. It’s fantastic for demonstrating processes, displaying artifacts and information, interacting with other people, collaborating, building in accountability to distance education courses, teaching complex concepts, simulations and more. As if it couldn’t get any better, creating an account in Second Life and using their software is free!

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Category: Introduction · New Tools · Social Media

Management and Digitization

April 15th, 2010 · No Comments


As I was working on a workshop about process planning for digitization, I came across this quote by Peter Drucker, ”Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.”

No matter how pleasant you are (or you think that you are) the bottom line is that the funding and reputation of your institution rests on success.

There is a reason that business principles exist. There is a reason that companies that fail to follow these principles also fail. Few managers of digitization projects have business backgrounds. The number one failure seems to be a lack of project management skills.

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Category: Archiving Challenges · Developing A Digital Collection

The Quest for IT

October 30th, 2009 · No Comments


Oh, I get it. “IT” – of course, the acronym for Information Technology. The name of the computer departments where I used to work. The place where all the “computer guys,” as I fondly referred to them, were busy working their techie magic.

However, when it comes to this particular blog format, a resource for archivists and librarians, “IT” takes on different connotations. What occurs to me is this concept, the quest for high-tech answers to make all our jobs, nay, our lives, easier and cooler, perhaps that is it. Having been teased about how uncool librarians and archivists are (by those not in the profession, natch), it is nice to be able to talk knowledgeably about computer use and social networking applications. It almost proves we are cool.

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Category: What is IT?

What is “IT”?

October 29th, 2009 · No Comments


Database searching, the Internet, websites, email, blogs, social networking here there and everywhere.

What is it that we are seeking?

The leap that we had thought that we took into information technology is just a step. No giant leap, no crevasse to reach, no earth shattering change yet. The leap was a baby step to the next baby step to the next.

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Category: What is IT?